In memoriam: Prof. Emeritus Robert F. Lambert

University of Minnesota ECE alumnus and long-time faculty member Professor Emeritus Robert F. Lambert passed away on March 27, 2023 at the age of 99. 

Black and white portrait of Professor Robert Lambert in a dark suit

Born in Warroad, Minnesota, Lambert served in the FBI, and in the United States Navy in World War II before pursuing his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota. After graduating with his Ph.D. he moved to Boston and joined MIT as an Assistant Professor. In 1955, he returned to the University as an Associate Professor and went on to be full Professor by 1958. An expert in acoustics and wave propagation in various media, and a prominent member of the Acoustical Society of America, Lambert was a teacher and researcher for over 45 years. 

Lambert was widely recognized for his groundbreaking work in acoustics, communication technology, and random vibrations. Among the several prominent awards and honors he received were the National Medal of Science, the highest honor the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers, and the IEEE Edison Medal (“for a career of meritorious achievement in electrical science, electrical engineering, or the electrical arts”). Lambert was a guest scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His work had scientific and public impact and was recognized beyond the confines of academia by entities such as NASA, 3M, Bell Labs, Medtronic, and others. 

Lambert’s contributions can be felt and experienced outside the scientific community. In the early 1960s, he collaborated with architect Ralph Rapson on the design of the Guthrie Theater. His work on acoustics for the building was critical to the creation of an immersive experience for theatergoers. He was also an acoustics advisor for the design of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and was instrumental in the design of highway noise barriers in Minneapolis. 

An advisee of Professor Henry Hartig in the department, Lambert went on to advise the late Professors James (Jim) Holte of ECE and Rodger Ziemer (University of Colorado Colorado Springs). 

Colleagues as well as students remember him as brilliant, kind, and supportive. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will miss Professor Robert F. Lambert and remember him for his academic and professional contributions and accomplishments. 

The Lambert family has requested that in lieu of flowers or other memorials, contributions be made to the Robert Lambert Memorial Fellowship in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota to support future generations of engineering students. Contributions can also be made by contacting Anastacia Quinn Davis (email: or phone: 612-625-4509)